Friday, December 23, 2016

Story Round-Up: Features in The Herald-News, Dec.18 through Dec. Dec. 23

It's funny how God works things out when one listens to the Holy Spirit.

September through December are the busiest months of the year, mostly because I assemble the event calendars and briefs, and the number of event submissions dramatically increases during this time.

Several weeks into this busy season in 2014, my assistant left for a different job and was not replaced. So the managing editor at the time temporarily increased my freelance budget to see me through it.

Last year, it was not increased, but decreased by a third. And I got through it.

In May, it went away for good. And I got through it again.

Until this past week.

Drowning in story pitches (a good thing!) and way, way behind in educational briefs (and was already behind this summer), I did the thing that, for me, is tantamount to a mortal sin when it comes to filling my pages.

I ran wire.

And I will, most likely, do so again for part of next week.

It's the only way I can buy myself some time at a time when many people won't be reading the newspaper (or only giving it a cursory glance) and rightly so, as time with God, family, and friends rises to the forefront.

Now this is where it gets interesting.

As I was wrestling with this decision, I received an email that I would have no more (and now it's less) than two pages for features on Sunday, Christmas Day, due to tight staffing. At this point, my Sunday cover had already fallen through, and now I had no room to run some really nice Christmas event pieces in print.

So much for asking for more pages!

After some discussion, a decision was made to run the briefs and the calendar. The pages were designed early and done. It personally stung not running a main story on Christmas, but I felt I made a good choice.

But then...

The story I ran last Sunday did well. And an opportunity for a follow-up appeared. And the news cover for Christmas Day didn't take shape.

You can see where this is going.

I'm certain I could not have taken on this extra assignment if I had not listened to that "quiet voice" inside me first. I acquiesced...and received in return "my heart's desire."  God is good all the time.

Lofty rambling complete. Here's the tangible work I did produce this past week.

First, the non-bylined work: the health, faith, and arts and entertainment calendars. Three of them can be found at the link below. Gotta Do It, runs each Sunday and often stays on the home page throughout the week.

Feature briefs for Tuesday (health), Thursday (faith), Friday (Arts and Entertainment), and Sunday (People) are also edited (texted and photos) by the lady of this blog, but only the stories have bylines.

I also have a list of Santa Sightings in the Joliet area at

Also, a few weeks ago, The Herald-News began a weekly Mystery Diner feature, a goal of mine that was finally approved. I had promised to post those links this past Monday, which I didn't, so I promised to do so this past Monday, which I didn't. Definitely for sure this Monday.

This week's Mystery Diner is below.

Another option: I do post the briefs and calendars on Twitter during the week, so you're welcome to follow me at @Denise_Unland61. And of course, I post curated content relating to the BryonySeries at @BryonySeries.

Just an FYI: On free days, holidays, and Sundays I'm not on call, I only post the blog to my "real" Twitter account, as my company insists we do take time off. I'm less reasonable, so unless I'm on a real vacation, I still post to the BryonySeries accounts. I won't be posting to my personal Twitter account this weekend, only to BryonySeries.

FYI: videos have not been attaching to my Herald-News stories, although they do run for a time on the home page. If you'd like to watch a video, and it's not showing up for you, message me, and I'll manually attach it. No worries for this week, though, although I will have videos for Sunday.

Thank you for reading The Herald-News.

Shorewood single dad of 7 juggles firefighting with caring for sons with cancer and autism

Community supports firefighter Jeff Otte and his seven children during his son’s cancer battle

In August, Jeff created a Go Fund Me page with a goal of $10,000. As of Thursday, the amount was raised was just $3,395.

Jeff said his main financial need is not money for medical bills – he has phenomenal insurance, Jeff said – but to pay his full-time and part-time nannies, so Jeff can continue working his job and keep the insurance for his kids.

An Extraordinary Life: New Lenox man excelled in many areas and shared the fruits with others
Donald Tolen packed two lifetimes into one

He did it all, from the Peace Corps to donating platelets to hunting mushrooms.

Pets of the Week: Dec. 19

Click on the caption of each photo to find out about that pet, including where he or she can be adopted.

Tom Kelly’s in New Lenox will make you want to stay awhile

Opening up the menu, it didn’t take me long to decide what to order. The beer menu, however, was more difficult.

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